McLaren’s attempt at a grand tourer turns out to be a very usable daily driver, without sacrificing supercar performance
Photos: Lionel Kong
Did you know that there’s a McLaren cycling team competing in the Tour de France? That’s one way to cover hundreds of kilometres across a scenic European country with a McLaren. But if pedalling a bike while wearing spandex gear is not your thing, then the McLaren GT offers another, more comfortable way to do it.
The GT is McLaren’s idea of a grand tourer (as its name suggests), which means its primary purpose is to cover long distances effortlessly and in comfort. For a company whose primary offerings are mainly hard-edged track weapons and high performance hypercars, it is an interesting departure from the norm for McLaren.
First impressions does seem like more of the same however. The GT is still a mid-engined two-seater supercar, like every other McLaren in the current lineup. The performance is also capable of matching any supercar rival you could think of, with the twin-turbo 4.0 V8 delivering 612hp and 630Nm of torque, and a 0-100km/h sprint time of 3.2 seconds.
But the GT does have a couple of tricks up its sleeves to differentiate itself from the other two-seater sports cars out there. For starters, there is the height-adjustable suspension, which in itself isn’t a fresh idea. The GT’s one however does add a fairly significant amount of height, offering 130mm of clearance in fact, thereby ensuring that you could clear a hump fairly easily without worrying about damaging the front splitter.
The suspension itself is pretty clever too, featuring what McLaren calls Proactive Damping Control. It’s basically a bunch of computer software and sensors which read and analyses the road surface, and adjusts the damping to adapt accordingly.
As a result, the GT has a remarkably composed ride. Not to limo-levels of comfort of course, but it’s comfortable enough to live with on a daily basis, which is not really something you could say of many low-slung two-seater sports cars these days with their large wheels, low profile performance tyres and ‘sports’ suspension.
That doesn’t mean the GT is a softie however. While you’ll probably cruise around in Comfort mode most of the time, the GT is well capable of delivering driving thrills once you stick it into Sport.
Do that, and you can feel the car immediately stiffen up. The ride quality naturally take a bit of a hit, but in return, the GT rewards the driver with some superbly balanced handling. It zips round a corner with incredible poise and accuracy, and the hydraulic-driven steering delivers plenty of feel and feedback.
At the same time, the GT is fairly forgiving, despite the huge amount of performance potential within. The levels of grip are incredibly high, and you feel as though you can take on most corners virtually flat out, with the limits being only your own bravado.
Beyond its driving capabilities, the GT demonstrates its versatility through its packaging. For a two-seater sports car, the GT offers an impressive amount of storage. There’s a 150 litre front trunk (or frunk), and up to 420 litres of room at the back over the engine to accommodate all your stuff, although the shape of the ‘boot’ means that a bicycle is unlikely to fit (to the disappointment of Team McLaren), unless it’s one of those small folding bikes.
The rest of the interior is typical supercar, with a low seating position, minimalist controls and Alcantara and premium leather everywhere. It’s not exactly luxurious though, and the infotainment system with its small screen is not the easiest to use, but you could probably live with it on a daily basis.
Which is pretty much the whole point of the GT, being a car that delivers the performance of a supercar with the usability of a daily driver. For its asking price of S$859,000 before COE and options however, it comes almost in direct competition with the Porsche 911 Turbo (S$790,588 without COE), a car that offers maybe 90 percent of the McLaren’s performance capabilities but with the added benefit of rear seats (albeit one for short people).
Ironically, the McLaren offers more storage space than the Porsche, at the expense of being able to squeeze in two more passengers, and its styling will probably turn more heads too. Ultimately though, the GT is at least a much better way of travelling cross-country than riding a bicycle, and you’ll probably won’t suffer a sore backside from driving one as well.
|Engine||3,994cc, V8, twin turbocharged|
|Power||612hp at 7500rpm|
|Torque||630Nm at 5500-6500rpm|
|VES Band / CO2||C2 / 270g/km|
|Price||S$859,000 without COE|
|Verdict:||A grand tourer with a difference, the McLaren GT mixes a nice blend of everyday comfort and practicality with supercar performance|